AC/DC: Let There Be Rock
Directed by Eric Dionysius and Eric Mistler
starring Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Cliff Williams, Simon Wright, Phil Rudd
Warner Home Video
Filmed in December 1979 in Paris, Let There Be Rock was supposed to be a chronicle of a hardworking band at the top of their game and at the end of a long tour. With the untimely death of lead singer Bon Scott the following February, it became a stirring epitaph of another one of rock’s gone-too-soon talents.
Let There Be Rock tries to be more than a concert film, and it becomes a mixed blessing. The shots at the beginning showing the set-up of a massive rock ‘n’ roll show give an idea of the scope behind every nightly show. Likewise, the between-song vignettes that give glimpses into the lives of the band members off-stage are enlightening. However, it seems at times that the goal was to emulate Zeppelin’s The Song Remains the Same, and the results are odd shots of Scott dancing on a frozen lake and a car racing an airplane. When the cameras focus on the live show, however, the energy is palpable.
Don’t come into this expecting a brilliant stage show of recent memory. There are no lasers, robots, or huge explosions. The lighting ranges from really good to downright awful in some instances. But the performances are electric.
The rhythm section of Rudd, Williams, and Malcolm Young delivers a machine gun foundation that drives into you with rapid-fire precision. Layered on to that comes Angus Young’s world famous lead guitar work. Trust me, you have never appreciated the man’s talent until you have seen him play live. The way he flails and gyrates at top speed across every square inch of the stage without missing a beat is jaw-dropping. Topping it all off is Bon Scott’s frontman performance.
And performance it is on all levels. In addition to providing the vocals for a great selection of the band’s hits up to that point, Scott also provided every lead singer cliché you can imagine, with the swagger and the patter and the interactions with the crowd and the band. But he did it all with a wink in his eye and his tongue in his cheek. You could tell that he knew he was playing a part and didn’t ever take himself too seriously.
The selection of songs made sense at the time, with hits from “Live Wire” through “Whole Lotta Rosie,” and of course the title track burning up the speakers. I was a little disappointed with the lack of representation from Dirty Deeds… Done Dirt Cheap, as “Rocker,” one of my all time favorite AC/DC songs, was almost unintelligible. With that minor quibble aside, the set list provides an amazing moment in time of this iconic band.
The video is good for what it is. Keeping in mind when it was filmed and that it was never meant to be high-def, the transfer is quite good. The original 2.0 sound mix is excellent, but some may prefer the new digital 5.1 mix. Extras are nonexistent on the standard DVD I received, but the Blu-Ray was packaged with some extras, so research accordingly before you buy.
And you should buy if you are a fan of AC/DC in their prime, or if you always wondered about this Bon Scott guy and finally want to see what he was like.